There is always an increase in phishing email in the lead up to Christmas. We need to be both vigilant and sceptical. Stop. Think. Connect.
At this time of year, scammers are feeling particurlarly opportunistic. They know that we will be reading email at home on personal devices. They also know that we’re busy and distracted, and will take every opportunity to exploit our natural human tendency to trust.
Scammers use phishing emails to trick us into disclosing personal details by inviting us to click on links or open attachments. Whether it’s an email inviting you to track a recent Amazon order or highlighting a problem with your bank that requires urgent attention,it is important that you know how to recognise phishing emails - and what to do if you think you have received one.
So stay vigilant and don’t get caught. Follow our three-steps to email safety.
Stop. Think. Connect.
Scammers often try to make you act quickly before you have time to think. So before you click on the link or open the attachment, stop. Consider who sent the email and if the content makes sense. Why would your bank need your details; surely they already know these.
Scammers will send a phishing email to millions of people on the off chance they catch just one person who will act on it. For example, you might easily be tempted to open an email with the subject line ‘Your concert tickets have been cancelled if you had recently ordered concert tickets. So never assume an email is genuine.
Look before you click
Some other signs of a scam email are:
- Links that say one thing but link to another. Tip - hover your cursor over the link within the email to see its true destination.
- Impersonal greetings, e.g. Dear Customer.
- Grammatical and spelling errors.
- Offers that are too good to be true. They usually are!
- Attachments you are not expecting. Don’t click on them just to see what they are – that could be enough to infect your device.
When in doubt, throw it out
If you are in any doubt of an email’s authenticity, simply delete it.
If, however, you believe the email to be genuine, there are ways you can check. Go through a trusted source to verify the email and its request. For example, if you receive an email from your bank asking for details regarding your account, then call the number on the back of your bank card to speak to the bank directly. Or check the University website if it claims to have come from the University.
The University, your bank, or any other reputable business will NEVER ask you to reveal, update or verify sensitive information – such as password, username, and account details – by email. If you receive an email that asks for this information, delete it.
Get more information in the Learners Toolkit - www.abdn.ac.uk/toolkit/skills/it-security.